Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has appointed Valeriu Nicolae, a Romanian Roma, as his new Special Representative for Roma Issues.
“It is a great honour and responsibility for me to join the team of the Secretary General,” said Nicolae. “I very much look forward to working for the Council of Europe and in particular with the Roma Support Team and continue advancing the human rights agenda in the Council of Europe member states.
“Since 1999, I have been closely following the development of the legal framework and the practical work carried out by the Council of Europe, seeking for solutions for the social inclusion of Roma and vulnerable groups at the grassroots level. I strongly believe in working together with member States and in building strategic alliances with all Council of Europe partners to achieve inclusive and open societies that respect human rights for all.”
Nicolae brings a rich and diverse experience to the team. Prior to taking office as Special Representative, he worked as State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly within the Romanian Government. Previously, he has held high-level positions at major international non-governmental human rights organisations, such as the World Vision, Open Society Institute and the network of European Roma NGOs (ERGO).
His human rights experience, in particular his work with schoolchildren in one of Bucharest’s ghettoes, have provided him with an in-depth knowledge of the everyday problems faced by Roma communities.
Nicolae founded the Policy Centre for Roma and Minorities, a Bucharest-based think tank, and co-founded the European Roma Policy Coalition. He is also a film producer and a writer.
Nicolae was awarded the European Parliament’s European Citizenship Award in 2013.
Video: Interview with Valeriu Nicolae:
Information: How Europe treats Roma people